For Karina Fundora, elephants are the closest thing to magic.
"I think they’re the most beautiful creatures (in the world)," said the UF psychology sophomore.
On Sunday, the 19-year-old will march in honor of her favorite animal as a participant in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, hosted by the Conservation Initiative for the Asian Elephant, or CIFAE. The march is one of several global marches this weekend that will bring attention to the ivory trade and the harm it causes elephants.
"We have an office in Gainesville, and this was part of the reason we wanted to bring the march to Gainesville," said Ron Chandler, a co-founder of CIFAE and a UF psychology professor. He said he hopes at least 150 people will attend the march, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Plaza of the Americas and proceed to the Hippodrome State Theatre.
While the march was held across the world last year, Chandler said this is the first year the march will be held in Gainesville. He estimated it will cost about $2,500 to hold the march, which he said will have costumes and music.
"This will be in sync with the other marches that will occur globally," Chandler said.
In addition to the march, the organization will partner with Elephantopia, which will host a benefit concert at First Magnitude Brewing Company on Saturday to coincide with marches in different time zones and raise funds for elephants abused in the ivory trade.
The concert will also raise funds for Kavala, an orphaned elephant who lost her mother to poachers in 2011. Elizabeth Chitwood, the founder of Elephantopia, said the organization hopes to raise $3,000 — a quarter of the amount necessary to provide for the elephant and her caretakers.
Local bands, including reggae band Melting Funk Pot and Chitwood’s band, Blue Slammers, will perform at the event, and speakers will present about the ivory trade.
Despite the football game against the University of Mississippi, Chitwood said she hopes at least 300 people will stop by the event, which begins at 4 p.m., to donate and learn about the cause.
"It’s a global issue that doesn’t have enough press," she said. "People don’t understand the crisis we are facing."